5 Movies to See Before Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman

2. Mean Streets

Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets

In 1973, Martin Scorsese changed the gangster genre and this is the film he did it with. From the very opening credits, starting with his voiceover work declaring, “You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullsh*t and you know it.” This quote is followed by The Ronettes song Be My Baby playing as Harvey Keitel hits his pillow, Scorsese’s exuberant style grabs a hold of you. Unlike The Godfather, from the previous year, Mean Streets concerns itself with lower-level organized crime. It deals with the characters’ everyday lives and their routines. No matter what Charlie (Keitel) or Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) do – they are surrounded by their sins and are reminded that penance is always around the corner. 

Why you should watch it: The seeds were planted in this one. Everything Scorsese is mostly known for can be traced to this film. From his personal themes of sins and penance to his trademark camera style, Mean Streets is a personal beginning and awakening for Martin Scorsese. 

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